EAST HARLEM GROUP LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO HONOR DR. ANTONIA PANTOJA WITH A MURAL BY MANNY VEGA

Posted on 01/16/2013 @ 05:16 PM

A group of community leaders with ties to East Harlem has come together to bring a mosaic mural to honor the legacy of Puerto Rican educational activist and founder of ASPIRA Dr. Antonia Pantoja. The mural, which will reside in a public space in El Barrio, will be created by renowned muralist, painter, sculptor and scholar Manny Vega.

The launch event for the "Dr. Antonia Pantoja Mural Project" will take place Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, at 6 p.m., at the auditorium of the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work, 2180 Third Ave. at 119th St.

The free event will feature the screening of filmmaker Lillian Jimenez's critically acclaimed documentary, "Antonia Pantoja, ¡Presente!" (2009), followed by a panel discussion with Vega and Jimenez. A limited edition engraving of Dr. Pantoja, created by Vega, will be sold to raise money for the Mural Project. In addition, copies of her memoir, "Antonia Pantoja: Visionary," will be available for purchase at the event. Books will be provided by East Harlem's own La Casa Azul Bookstore.

In collaboration with Hunter College and its Center for Puerto Rican Studies and Institute for Latino Policy, the Mural Project was conceived to honor the legacy of Dr. Pantoja - a social worker, civil rights worker and educational activist who made long-lasting contributions to the Latino community throughout the U.S. and was a 1996 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. The upcoming event is the first in a series of community presentations about the project.

The Toni Pantoja Mural Committee is honored that Vega has signed on to make the mural a reality. Vega's vibrant, inspiring and gorgeous work is conspicuous in East Harlem public spaces, notably inside the 110th St. and Lexington Ave. subway station and in the recently unveiled street mosaic mural at the 105th St. and Lexington. He also created the mural of poet Julia de Burgos at 106th St. and Lexington. Vega's work has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum, El Museo del Barrio, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth, Fowler Museum at UCLA and the Bronx Museum.

A passionate, indomitable leader, Dr. Pantoja (1922-2002) sought to empower Puerto Ricans and other Latinos through education, advocacy and the leadership development of its youth. Important Latino institutions emerged from her work: Aspira, established in New York in 1961 and now one of the largest national Latino non-profit education organizations in the U.S.; the National Puerto Rican Forum, which served as an incubator for organizations and programs promoting economic self-sufficiency; and Universidad Boricua, the precursor to Boricua College. She also created the Puerto Rican Research and Resources Center in Washington, D.C. in 1971.

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Washington Heights: Free DACA Assistance Workshop

Posted on 01/11/2013 @ 01:58 PM

Tags: New York City, Immigration Legislation

Washington Heights: Free DACA Assistance Workshop, Saturday, January 12th 10am-3pm


The Hispanic Federation, NYS Department of State, Community Association of Progressive Dominicans (ACDP)*, *Dominican Bar Association and partners* are co-hosting a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals FREE Application Assistance Workshop this Saturday, January 12th, from 10:00AM - 3:00PM at ACDP's Beacon in Washington Heights.

Certain youth who were brought to the United States as young children may be eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is relief from removal from the country (deportation), and for employment authorization (work permits).

Youth interested in applying for DACA can receive free legal advice and assistance with their DACA application from trained pro bono attorneys at our upcoming application assistance workshop in New York City.

Snacks and refreshments will be provided. Reservations are required. Please send RSVP to nysdeferredaction@dos.ny.gov
 
For more information please visit: www.nysdeferredaction.ny.gov or email Jessica Orozco, jorozco@hispanicfederation.org

You can download and share the flier here.

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Christie to Latino Attorneys: Wait 10 Years to Sit on the NJ Supreme Court

Posted on 12/24/2012 @ 02:03 PM

America knows Gov. Chris Christie by now. They heard his name in the swirl of presidential hopefuls before the primaries got serious. They saw him stumping for Mitt Romney. They revel or wince at his persona. They admire him for putting his state first when the devastation of Hurricane Sandy required bipartisan leadership.

Latinos in New Jersey also know the governor by now. They, too, admire his ability to rise over the hyper-partisanship of today's politics and secure much-needed federal disaster relief from the Obama administration. Some of them would actually welcome and support a presidential run from the governor at some point. But for many of the state's largest minority, the governor is reverting to form. His record of nominees to the state's highest court continues to ignore New Jersey's Latino community. His recent announcement heralding two additional names makes it five total nominees from the governor for three vacancies on the New Jersey Supreme Court. Not one Latino nominee among them. One vacancy stemmed from the departure of the State's first and only Hispanic jurist. At this rate Christie is telling Latinos -- now 18 percent of the population and swelling -- wait 10 more years when the next member reaches retirement age before you get a whiff of a Supreme Court Justice.

Sounds like the guy who wants to be president better brush up on his Spanish. Sounds like he better re-read the Election Day results of last November.

New Jersey's Latino population has had a long history of contributions to the state and an activism on the political, economic or civil rights arenas that is exemplary. It is a diverse Latino community as well: Puerto Ricans are the clear plurality with close to 30 percent of the Latino population; Mexicans, at 13 percent, have just edged out Dominicans in the last Census; and Cubans are just shy of 6 percent. Just a cursory review of the 40-year docket of LatinoJustice PRLDEF evidences a community that is more than ready to assert its rights in court, be it to demand sanitary housing for migrant farmworkers in South Jersey, to establishing the rights of voters to be free from discriminatory Election Day challenges, and to stopping anti-immigrant ordinances that target Latino day laborers.

Rutgers professor Robert Montemayor has done an excellent job of extolling what he terms Latino "indiscriminate spending," or what marketers call Latino purchasing power. Power is only power if it is leveraged, he notes adroitly. Nonetheless, the numbers are impressive. Nationally the Latino market spends $1 trillion. And in New Jersey Latinos spend an incredible $55 billion dollars. But whether Gov. Christie is keeping tab on these points he must have noted the shifts in the political winds in New Jersey. Postings on the Latino Decisions blog document that the share of the Latino electorate in New Jersey grew by 82 percent since 2000 and that in this decidedly pro-Obama state, Latinos actually voted in higher numbers for President Obama than did Latinos nationally, 77 percent compared to 75 percent. Simultaneously, Senator Robert Menendez (D) easily won reelection in the Garden State joining three other Latinos in the U.S. Senate where he has championed Latino causes for years.

And yet, for Latino attorneys and the communities they represent, it appears that the governor did not get this memo. Actually, with a post-Hurricane Sandy approval rating of 77 percent overall, and 67 percent among Democrats, could it be that the governor doesn't care because he's looking elsewhere?

Diversity in all aspects of government life is important and more so as the census projects that in a generation or two, our country will be composed of pluralities of our rich racial and ethnic tapestry, and Latinos would double in population during this time. But what many governments fail to see is that the failure of diversity within judicial ranks is especially pernicious because it feeds a cynicism that may be unwarranted. The bulk of judges apply the law in a fair manner, but perception here is key.

In the first instance, diversity promotes confidence in the legitimacy of the court system. Confidence can only erode when Latinos are subject to arbitrary & discriminatory treatment by law enforcement. Unquestionably, the judiciary is an interdependent actor in the larger scheme of law enforcement: when Latinos distrust policing decisions it informs their view of the judiciary; when Latinos question prosecutorial discretion, it informs their view of the judiciary; when Latinos confront barriers to access to the courts, based on language or economic status, it informs their view of the judiciary. Law enforcement excesses targeting New Jersey's Latinos are nothing new. The 1974 Newark riots coming just seven years after the well-publicized 1967 riots, were all about police abuse in Newark's Puerto Rican neighborhoods. The scandal of racial profiling on the State's highways by State Troopers targeted black and Latino motorists. Near the end of the Jon Corzine administration his Attorney General authorized a new protocol for interactions with immigrant communities that only exacerbated the deportations of Latinos for mere traffic and low-level criminal violations. The National Coalition of Latino Officers, headquarted in New Jersey, notes that there are multiple towns in Jersey that are 30% Latino that have yet to hire a Latino police officer. In short, the implementation of criminal justice has a long way to go to erase these errors.

"Courts are the most visible part of our legal system," notes the New Jersey judiciary on its website. And its volume of work bears this out with over seven million new cases filed per year. Unfortunately, with a dearth of Latino judges in the State court system, Latinos are rendered nearly invisible in this most visible of government branches.

The New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts reports that in 2012 there are 24 judges of Hispanic origin in the State courts, or 5.8% of the total of 413 judgeships. There are an additional 530 municipal judgeships in New Jersey but no demographic data is available for that sector of the judiciary at this time. Nonetheless, the more common path for a sitting jurist to be appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court is by sitting in the State court system, not the decentralized municipal court system.

The dearth of Latino attorneys on the bench is also exacerbated by the problems in the pipeline to law school. The Law School Admissions Council has reported significant drops in persons taking the LSAT - around 16% average drop from last June, October and December. Law school enrollment, for the last 8 years, is down in Puerto Rican and Mexican American communities - the two largest Latino subgroups in the country, and in New Jersey as well. And this despite the fact that the number of seats in accredited law schools has increased during the same period.

There are 41,000 attorneys in the State according to the American Bar Association which also reports that nationwide Latinos compose only 3.4% of the 1.2 million licensed attorneys. Undoubtedly the proportion of Latino attorneys is far less than their share of the State's population. Data on the approximate number of Latino attorneys is not easy to discern and the Administrative Office of the Courts has not conducted its own census of New Jersey attorneys since 1985. Applying the national average to the State results in an estimate of 1,400 Latino attorneys, much less than the proportion of all Latinos in New Jersey but a closer barometer of the relevant labor pool. All of this may resonate if this were a court of law in an employment discrimination case. But it is not. Courts are the public's gateway to the legal system and the rule of law. Demanding diversity on the bench can only enhance the rule of law. Regarding the New Jersey Supreme Court that call was recently made by both the Latino Action Network and by the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. The access sought by those calls is not for diversity within the Governor's inner circle or even within his Cabinet. Instead, it concerns the face of the judiciary -the most "visible" part of the State's legal system. What does it say to Latinos, nay to all of New Jersey, when Christie effectively says that maybe, maybe if Latinos are lucky (!) in ten years the Supreme Court would be open to a Latino jurist?

Across the river in New York, the importance of the relationship between diversity and public confidence in the judiciary has been well-documented. In 2003 in a report of the Commission to Promote Public Confidence in Judicial Elections, registered voters believed that judicial treatment depended on "race, ethnicity, gender, wealth and language skills." Further, "[m]any believe that poor people, some racial minorities and non-English speaking litigants receive worse treatment by judges." This sentiment is heightened among Latino and African American populations. Specifically, 56% of Latinos believe that Latinos receive worse treatment than others in the courts. A smaller percentage of whites, only 33%, felt the same. Seventy percent of Latinos believed that non-English speakers were not treated as well as others, compared with 39% of whites. Sixty-seven percent of Latino voters believed that poor people are not treated as well as others, compared with 46% of whites expressing the same sentiment. A subsequent poll in 2007 in New York State by the Center for Court Innovation reflected some improvement among these indicators, though gaps still remain between the perception of Latinos and whites in New York. In general these data confirm the principle that an increase in diversity leads to greater confidence in the courts, particularly in minority populations.

Recent developments in the processes used in New York to fill current vacancies in its own highest court, the Court of Appeals, are also illustrative of how Governor Christie approaches these decisions. New York's state judiciary is roughly three times the size of New Jersey's and many of the judgeships are filled by voters in judicial elections. Unlike Governor Christie, Governor Andrew Cuomo does not execute his imprint on the judiciary by writing on a blank slate. The Commission on Judicial Nomination vets potential candidates to the Court of Appeals and presents names from which the Governor must select one as his nominee that is then given to the Senate for advice and consent. This year the retirement of the Hon. Carmen Ciparick, the first and only Latina or Latino to serve on New York's highest court, resulted in a panel recommendation of seven attorneys to replace her. Three of the seven are Hispanic: Rolando Acosta, Jenny Rivera, and Margarita Rosa. Of those three, two of them were former staff attorneys at the organization I have the honor of leading, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Of the three, two are Latinas, two are Puerto Rican and one is Dominican. One of the three is a sitting appellate court judge, one is a law professor, one heads a major social service organization serving the poor. It is now up to Governor Cuomo to push one name among the seven and forward it to the Senate.

In New Jersey, Governor Christie had five attempts to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, two of which were occasioned by the departure of the Supreme Court's only African-American jurist, John Wallace, and another by its only Latino jurist, Roberto Rivera Soto. Of the five nominees, one was African-American, two were Asian-American. None were Latino. All of this was part of the Governor's larger plan to change the Supreme Court as we know it. For Christie, the Supreme Court had gone too far afield in its rulings on public school funding and affordable housing. Guess which populations in the State stand most to gain by fairer policies regarding school funding and affordable housing? Right: African-Americans and Latinos. Indeed, right now Christie is challenging the validity of the 1975 Mt. Laurel case which outlawed exclusionary zoning practices (minimum lot sizes, prohibitions on multiple dwellings, etc.) as unconstitutional and created a statewide Fair Share requirement for affordable housing. There's no question that exclusionary zoning causes racial and economic segregation, and that the Fair Share requirement lessens it, as the Latino Action Network wrote in an amicus brief. More than 60,000 affordable units have been built since the Mt. Laurel decision benefitting over 160,000 tenants. In short, the housing segregation of Latinos is higher in New Jersey than in the U.S. as a whole. But Christie's view of the role of the Supreme Court would change all that, at the risk of challenging the Court's independence.

In 2010, the Governor's refusal to support Justice Wallace's reappointment resulted in a major standoff with the Democrat controlled State Senate that lasted over a year and resulted in a Supreme Court with less than its full complement of jurists. The departure of Justice Rivera Soto was a lot more complicated and with a healthy dose of drama. The Justice engaged in a quixotic work stoppage and refused to deliberate upon cases in a way that could have easily been interpreted as supporting Christie's position to replace Wallace leading to equally confusing and unwarranted calls for his impeachment, and eventually his decision not to seek reappointment. If Christie's current nominees are approved it will be the first time since 1994 that the New Jersey Supreme Court will not have a Latino or African-American jurist -and for the next ten years as well. If his current nominees pass muster it would result in a historic first of an Asian-American on the court. Admittedly laudable, but with three vacancies, one created by the departure of the first-ever Latino Justice, the Governor had his chances to further diversify the court. Latino attorneys are still waiting.

And it's not as if his broader record of appointments of Latinos was markedly stellar. He pushed the appointment of a Latina judge to the Hudson County Superior Court. In the strongest Latino county in the State, more than 40% Latino, that's a no-brainer. Most recently he is pushing the nomination of a Latino attorney to the Rutgers University Board of Trustees to the point of bypassing the Senate entirely and making a direct appointment. The nomination was stalled -not an infrequent occurrence given his bombastic style of management. But in this case his nominee to Rutgers will be the only Trustee with decidedly deep roots in New Jersey's premier state university. As a graduate, former professor and father of two Rutgers alumni, Mr. Martin Pérez appears more than well qualified for the position. And yet, one or two gubernatorial appointments fails to cover a dismal record of appointments overall and there are no Latinos in senior leadership positions anywhere in Trenton. At the start of his administration, the press noted how most of his Cabinet appointments were white men. The Governor responded that that diversity is one factor but he prefaced that by saying he won't take a "Noah's ark" approach to his appointments. This speaks volumes.

Diversity in America's courts reflects the values of diversity in every other aspect of American life from our college campuses to our Board rooms. These values speak to inclusion, diversity of perspective, and diversity of experience. The tenure of Justice Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court was highlighted by the views of his colleagues on the bench, most notably Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that spoke to the perspective he brought to the issues before the Court - perspectives gleaned from lived experiences. Justice O'Connor's observations bring to mind now Justice Sonia Sotomayor's tellingly profound observation that at times case adjudications would benefit from the perspective of a "wise Latina." Thus even within the narrow confines of evidence and judicial decision-making, there is room for diversity of thought in the court's deliberation.

Some of these perspectives have been noted by Professors Kevin Johnson and Luis Fuentes-Rohwer in a law review article on judicial diversity published in 2004. For example a jurist of Mexican ancestry may appreciate that there is no readily definable "Mexican appearance." This view differs from the 1975 ruling in United States v. Brignoni-Ponce where the United States Supreme Court approved the reliance on "Mexican appearance" in immigration enforcement and stated that it may be employed with other factors to justify the questioning of a person near the border about his or her immigration status. Thus the professors noted, "an awareness of the stereotypes and their impacts in relegating Latina/o citizens to second class citizenship might influence a judge's approach to a variety of areas of law, including the immigration and anti-discrimination laws."

Contrast the stereotype of "Mexican appearance" with what happened to a prominent Latina attorney in Essex County Superior Court in Newark just four years ago. Ivette Alvarez, former President of the Hispanic Bar Association and one of the state's premier family law practitioners was called an "illegal alien" in open court by a sitting New Jersey judge, James Convery. Courageously, she lodged a complaint with the courts and its committee on judicial conduct eventually reprimanded the judge. The Hispanic Bar Association said at the time: "Simply put, in today's climate in New Jersey where anti-immigrant hysteria in increasingly in vogue, accusing Latino members of the Bar of being "illegal aliens" is code for engaging in discriminatory and stereotypical name-calling that isolates Latino attorneys, questions their legitimacy and competence, and perpetuates the notion of "other" that the HBA has steadfastly sought to eliminate." Convery quietly retired from the bench. And yet the concern of the Latino bar went beyond Ms. Alvarez who expertly knew how to navigate the system and expose this abuse. If an attorney of her caliber was insulted in this manner, what of less experienced Latino attorneys or Latino litigants who are silenced for fear of retaliation, the Association asked.

After such a brazen display of animus, even if you accept that it was an isolated occurrence, are we still seriously debating the benefits of diversity on the bench? Really, Governor Christie? The bottom line here is that diversity matters -and it matters in all walks of life including at the highest levels of the judiciary.

It is time New Jersey recognizes that as well.

Juan Cartagena
President & General Counsel
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
19 December 2012

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Jacob's Story

Posted on 12/19/2012 @ 07:00 AM

Tags: Police Reform

“I’m going home to my abuela’s this weekend; I hope I don’t get stopped….”

Jacob Serrano is a 19-year old sophomore at Bronx Community College, majoring in Criminal Justice. This winter Jacob is serving as a Communications and New Media Intern at LatinoJustice PRLDEF. He will continue his studies at John Jay College beginning next fall.

Support LatinoJustice’s efforts to provide opportunities for young Latinos – make a donation today.

Since the first election of New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2001, there has been a dramatic increase in the police practice of “Stop and Frisk”. The number of incidents has increased by the hundreds of thousands. For more than ten years, police have been overusing the practice of stopping countless innocent people, for no reason, with no suspicion, and just frisking them, with no regard to how it feels.

What many of these police officers don’t understand is that these encounters create harsh relationships between the police and the citizens making it more difficult to deter crime, which means crime will rise and the police will be viewed by targeted communities, especially minorities, as bullies.

The purpose of police is to serve and protect, to report, investigate, prevent, and stop crime, as well as to detain suspects through proper police procedure. Stop and frisk practices, however, are too much. Police are required to have reasonable suspicion of those they stop, not just to stop people because of their features.

Last year, almost 700,000 New York City citizens were stopped and frisked, with the vast majority being Black or Hispanic, and with most being totally innocent. The time has come to just say enough. This past year, an audio went viral about a young Hispanic teenager, known as Alvin Cruz, who was verbally abused by police, stopped and frisked without proper police procedure. The officer explicitly tells him that the purpose of the stop is for being a “mutt”, and tells him to “shut the f--- up”, and that he will ‘‘break his f----ing arm”. This is just one example of the broken down and outdated policy of “Stop and Frisk”.

After hearing about Alvin Cruz, I couldn’t help but remember my personal, but less dramatic experience with police. I remembered that evening when coming home from school with friends, tired but content. I, along with my Black and Hispanic friends, was on my phone, sitting peacefully, speaking at a normal, respectful voice level on the train. We were called to attention by two police officers on board and were approached. They, in a serious, cold and unfriendly manner demanded that we show our identification and open our school backpacks. “Is there a problem, officer?” asked my friend. The officer’s face looked annoyed at the question. “Open the bags,” he firmly insisted. Although there was no individual, direct disrespect to any of us personally, their actions were totally unreasonable and unnecessary since there was no provocative or incriminating behavior conducted by ANY of us. Of course, the officers found no weapons or contraband in our bags. They found nothing but textbooks, notebooks, and a 96-graded Sociology exam. I then opened my wallet to show ID, and when they saw a small metal replica NYPD silver badge clipped inside, they had to ask how I got that. I told them I have family members on the force. Therefore, we were left alone and they walked away. Lucky for us, they eased up and gave us a break. Had I not had the badge, they may have made my life that much harder.

Even so, those embarrassing minutes of my life were totally uncalled for. During the stop, the passengers stared. It was annoying, embarrassing, intimidating, and nerve wracking. It felt like psychological abuse. Even having done no wrong, seeing a badge, a gun and a cold, serious face would make ANYONE wonder if they are going to feel handcuffs tonight.


This summer, in collaboration with the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy at Urban Arts, our students wrote, directed, created and shot a youth documentary on the impact of Stop and Frisk in their communities. This spring, students in the LatinoJustice New Media Leadership program will launch a campaign and show the documentary in high schools all over New York City.

To view this video, you will need to install the Flash Player.

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The Youth Vote in the 2012 Election

Posted on 12/12/2012 @ 01:28 PM

Written by: Jacob Serrano, Communications Intern

Being a youth in college, I take pride in the fact that I voted. Many of my peers as well had their voice heard in this election. Being a young voter, it would only be natural to ask, exactly how many of us voted? Of those that voted, specifically how many of us exactly voted for Barack Obama’s second term? Why?

I asked some of my friends who they voted for (of those that did vote), it is safe to say that the majority of them preferred Barack Obama over Romney. According to statistics, approximately 22-23 million young people ages 18-29 voted, which is about 49% of the age bracket eligible to vote. Of those youths that voted, 60% of young voters voted for Barack Obama. Only 37% of the young voters selected Mitt Romney. Reasons of course, varied greatly. There are many factors that could explain why Barack Obama was favored among the younger crowd.

The younger voters ages 18-29 represented about 19% of all those voted on November 6, a significant count being that it’s almost 20%. Although statistics show that more young people voted for the 2012 election, slightly less than half is still pretty low. Clearly, we need more young minds politically involved. But why did most of the young that voted, choose Obama? For the most part, Obama’s ideas were more popular in urban areas, which is where I live. My home state New York, voted strictly Obama. Of course, this is typical in Democratic states, but I even feel more of the conservatism in adults that does not fall into the younger cohort.

I can say for sure that during my inquiries among youths, students, and peers, I noticed the same answers appearing and all with resonating similarities and connections. I not only asked who they voted for, but why. Needless to say, similar answers continued to appear. The younger minds in my opinion seem to lean towards Democratic government ideals over Republican views. To one of my college friends, “Obama’s policies were more morally sound to me.” To another college friend, “Obama’s stance on gay marriage seems only moral and fair, showing where he stands when it comes to social equality.”

To a former high school friend, “I voted for Obama. Social programs are important to me, and his stance on social equality is much more coherent with where I stand on issues (ie. pro-marriage equality). Also, I believe Obamacare is a strong model of a type of positive change we need in the healthcare industry. All in all, a better step forward in my mind than Romney would have been.”

I assume most of my peers choosing Obama did so because they were of middle or working class, are more open-minded to same sex marriage, and are aware and social problems that people have with healthcare and affordability that the government helps with. Let’s not forget that we’re not students with parents who can easily pull out $25,000 a year to pay for our tuition.

Those that supported Mitt Romney were fewer. They were in favor of his more militarized outlook in a “stronger America”. They were more in favor of the socially and domestic conservative views. I also heard that they were in favor of smaller government, less government involvement in social and domestic issues, less taxation, increased corporate freedom, and increased financial power to the individual states. The concept of, less taxation on the rich so that they have more investment funds, therefore more money to pay employees, make more jobs, is supposed to benefit the economy, is also in favor by some- primarily conservatives (being that Obama seeks to increase taxes on the wealthy). But very simply, they were unsatisfied with the past four years of Obama.

But let’s face it, Obama has a charm, he’s more sociable, relatable based on his economic background, and seems to be more of people person. This makes him very popular, and liked within the young crowd. He’s liked more by lower income people and his policies seem more favorable to the less fortunate classes. His ethnicity may have been a factor of the election, but he seemed more in touch and more down to Earth with the people. His plans also sounded more coherent, linear, and more transparent, unlike Romney’s changing views. This was a huge factor of the result of the election.

Romney’s also far too corporate friendly and less in favor of the majority of people, even though he tried to be. He’s also against unions, but let’s not forget his attempt to kill PBS and Big Bird (emphasizing his cuts on public organizations, for the people, by the people, paid for by the people). That was a big no-no.

Personally, I think the past four years of Obama were beautiful compared to the past eight years of his predecessor, but that’s just me. Sure, Bush had certain qualities, many of which were admirable, such as the social responsibility he felt the United States had in more foreign involvement, and the “stronger America”, and his little humanitarian initiatives, but overall, many of his social and economic views were unpopular to the general public. Romney too, was seen to be “out of touch”.

As a whole, I’m generally satisfied with the outcome of the election. To me, my most important issues is a stronger middle class, more equal opportunity for the working poor, and assistance, giving them a chance to compete with the upper classes, fairer taxation, meaning the rich pay more and give more back, and stronger education, giving us the tools and knowledge we need to better ourselves and compete with the rest of the world, as we are very much, behind! Science, medical, technology, innovation, and education should have more emphasis. Less tax dollars should be spent on foreign aid, and more domestically. Less money should be spent on the military, and more on the general public problems and environment. We need to stop buying from and depending on other countries, and starting have them do business with us.

Healthcare for the disabled, elderly, unemployed, or with low income, who may rely on public assistance, is particularly important to me. Those working should have access to affordable healthcare with no doubt. Back in high school during sophomore year, I had a friend who was on the football team. During a game, he had a heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital and when brought in, they were checking insurance, and held him in the waiting room until they could verify that he had insurance. I forget if it was that they did not have insurance, were not covered by the insurance, or could not find proofs. Whatever the case, the bureaucrats continued to hold him up. After two hours of waiting, the 15 year old died in the hospital, waiting to be seen. If he had insurance, he would have been alive, and continued with his aspirations to become a pilot. The federal government should require all medical centers and healthcare clinics to treat all patients, or anyone with ailment. Solve the insurance and payment issues after we know the human being will continue to live. The fact the money is placed before a human life is disgusting and infuriating. It is just plain and simply wrong, with no debate. I could never stress this enough. Doctors swear to practice for the good of humanity and save lives, not work for the greed of money. More government employed physicians may help the problem. If I were doctor, I would rather take a $150,000 annual salary over a $250,000 salary, if I know that I’m saving twice as many lives, and helping far more people be healthy. Wealth or materialism preferred over human life, blood, pain or unfairness should be a crime against humanity.

So when I voted for president, I tried to vote morally, to my conscience. Which candidate cares a little more for the general population? Who cares more for the masses? Who is going to provide help to those who need it more? Who favors people, life, and justice over money, corporations, and profit? This is no way is an attempt to incriminate Mitt Romney, while he has admirable qualities. But to justify not helping the masses or those in need for profit and more wealth is repulsive. Fairer wages, fairer student tuition, and affordable healthcare for all would never hurt the economy if taxation is fair and budgeting is done intelligently. The lower income children will be able to compete with higher income children. Opportunities for the poor to move into the middle class will increase. The population will be better educated. Crime would theoretically decrease. The United States could compete with Europe and first world Asia in the fields of science, technology, medicine, and education. And yes, the rich will still have the bulk of their wealth.

To have a brighter and more optimistic future, we need more informed masses. We need more educated and competent crowds. We need better democracy and voting opportunities. We should give the young and old more of an incentive to vote. The voter registration process is far too complex and should be simplified and friendlier to all users and those of other languages. Having online registration and accessibility would help. Perhaps more guidance and assistance from aids or professionals in the voting system would help the process, as well as create more jobs. Voting lines need to be shorter and more staff should be in place, assisting the process so that it is faster. This would inspire the young and old, even minorities to vote. The middle class needs better representation. Better democracy is the way to start.

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Jessenia Vazcones Passed the Bar

Posted on 12/12/2012 @ 07:00 AM

Jessenia Vazcones Passed the NYS Bar Exam

LatinoJustice PRLDEF would like to congratulate Jessenia Vazcones on Passing the NYS Bar Exam

Join us in making dreams come true and consider making a donation to LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Your donation of $5, $10, $15 or $20 will help us support our future abogados.

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Dando Gracias

Posted on 11/22/2012 @ 07:00 AM

Dando Gracias

Today we are thankful for our incredible board members for your continued support of our work and for always pushing us forward. Please take a moment and read this email message that we received by our board member, Matthew Schwartz.

Please allow me to bore you with a short story about something that happened just a few years ago.

You may remember that in 2009 during confirmation hearings, some members of the Senate and some entertainment personalities accused then Judge (now Justice) Sotomayor of having been a member of a left-wing radical group in her younger days. That organization was the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (now LatinoJustice PRLDEF), a civil rights group dedicated to using the power of the law and education to champion an equitable society, protecting opportunities for people to succeed in school and work, to fulfill their dreams and to sustain their families and communities.

Not long after these accusations were aired, I attended the annual meeting and retreat of the board of directors of LatinoJustice on which I have the honor to serve. Since the meeting was at a resort area, several of my fellow board members brought their families, including spouses, toddlers and infants. I was watching these young families and was filled with hope and pride that the people with whom I was associated were committed to striving for a better world for their children and for all the underserved among us. I also noted the irony of watching mothers and fathers talking about raising their families, childhood milestones and illnesses and all of the little details of family life, while being part of an organization accused of a radical agenda.

When did loving families, raising children and working for a better future become a radical agenda?

I was once asked why I serve on the board of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. I replied that I do so because I’m a patriot. My questioner looked puzzled and I explained:

At every major event I attend, including my weekly Lions Club meetings, we say the Pledge of Allegiance. The final words of the Pledge are not “with liberty and justice for some,” or “with liberty and justice for people who look like me.” No. The words are “with liberty and justice for ALL.” Some people merely say these words and some people choose to live these words. By supporting LatinoJustice, I choose to live the words and the spirit of the Pledge. I am a patriot.

Now celebrating its 40th year of living the Pledge, Latino Justice has expanded from its New York roots and played a significant role in encouraging Florida voters in the recent election, devoting significant time and resources with great success. However, LatinoJustice has not forgotten its northeast roots and is now crossing the river from New York to come to New Jersey.

Please join me on November 29 in Newark to welcome and honor LatinoJustice on its Legacy Tour as it continues to advocate for an equitable society in which everyone has the opportunity to succeed and prosper.

I hope to see you there.

Matthew Schwartz

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Battling Hate with Humor in Charlotte

Posted on 11/09/2012 @ 07:00 AM

Battling Hate with Humor in Charlotte, North Carolina: A Warning to NSM & KKK We Are Watching You

This Saturday, November 10th at 2:30pm, Immigrant Rights Advocates will march against the National Socialist Movement and The Klu Klux Klan, but dressed as clowns. Leading the Clown Convention is the Latin American Coalition in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

 The NSM and the KKK are meeting in Charlotte for an anti-non-white immigrant rally. According to the latest FBI hate crimes statistics, hate crimes based on anti-Hispanic bias accounted for nearly 67 percent of all ethnically motivated crimes in 2010 and the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Pew Research Center have further documented the surge of anti-Latino hate crimes alongside the rise of active hate groups.

The National Socialist Movement is an organization that specializes in theatrical and provocative protests, it is one of the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States. The group is notable for its violent anti-Jewish rhetoric, its racist views and its policy allowing members of other racist groups to join NSM while remaining members of other groups. Until 2007, NSM members protested in full Nazi uniforms, now traded in for black “Battle Dress Uniforms.” (The Southern Poverty Law Center http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/national-socialist-movement).

The NSM is now one of the largest neo-Nazi organizations in the country. The resurgence of the NSM began in 2004, in the wake of the deaths of the country’s two major neo-Nazi leaders, the National Alliance’s William Pierce (d. 2002) and the Aryan Nations’ Richard Butler (d. 2004). Also contributing to the vacuum in neo-Nazi leadership of the nation was the 2004 imprisonment of Matt Hale, the leader of the World Church of the Creator. Hale was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge. (The Southern Poverty Law Center http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/national-socialist-movement).

The Ku Klux Klan, with its long history of violence, is the most infamous - and oldest - of American hate groups. Although black Americans have typically been the Klan's primary target, it also has attacked Jews, immigrants, gays and lesbians and, until recently, Catholics. Over the years since it was formed in December 1865, the Klan has typically seen itself as a Christian organization, although in modern times Klan groups are motivated by a variety of theological and political ideologies.

So why are they marching dressed as clowns? “While racism and hate are serious business, hate groups coming to our city is just ridiculous. To quote a popular internet meme, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” So if they plan on bringing their clown convention to Charlotte and make a mockery out of civic discourse while there is real policy work to be done, then we plan to supply the clowns and extra-awesome mockery. Moreover, to hold a belief in white supremacy is to be worse than a clown. The type of rhetoric these groups espouse does not work to move our country forward. We reject such divisiveness.” Latin American Coalition.

We agree that Hate should never be left unchallenged, but we ask our partners and friends on the ground to be safe and to be vigilant. Know your rights, especially if you are a Dreamer or undocumented, and be safe. Please know that LatinoJustice PRLDEF is here to support your efforts and will be keeping a close eye on Charlotte. To the NSM and the KKK, you have been warned, the nation is watching you and we are watching you. Take your hate somewhere else, there’s no room for hate discourse in our community. To our community in Charlotte, we are here to support you and will be available to you via our social sites. Tweet us, message us, Facebook us, email us and let us know that you are ok or if anything happens to you.

The Latin American Coalition “Send in the Clowns” convention will start at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 10th at the Children and Family Services Center in downtown Charlotte. They will walk over to Old City Hall at 3:00 p.m.

Visit their Facebook event page to RSVP and get more info.

Follow along and keep us updated and informed with #KKKlowns or @latinojustice

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Ve y Vota NALEO & LatinoJustice Hotline Training

Posted on 11/02/2012 @ 12:05 PM

Tags: Voter Protection, Voting Rights Legislation


Saludos amigos!

As promised, for anyone who could not attend the training today, we have provided the video training for you to use.

Unfortunately, the powerpoint didn't work with our screen share but you have the audio and the powerpoint can be downloaded here.

You can also begin to get comfortable with the Voter Protection resources for the Eastern United States as we will take on calls mostly from the East. We recommend that you check out the FAQ sections for New York, New Jersey and a few more just to become acquainted with some of the questions you may receive.

For your Monday and/or Tuesday shift, please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time so we can setup your station and welcome you! 

The location is: 1460 Broadway (15th Floor) with entrance on West 41st Street between Ave of the Americas and Broadway . The entrance is right behind the Starbucks.

Please email jchavez@latinojustice.org if you have any questions or problems and to sign up for a volunteer slot. Thank you for taking the time to help us with this important project and for your patience. We truly appreciate it!

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Cesar Vargas, DREAMer Law Grad to Become First to File NY Bar Admission Application

Posted on 10/22/2012 @ 12:05 PM

Tags: Immigration Legislation, Licensing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 22, 2012

Contact: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 917-673-9095, jgarcia@latinojustice.org or via Twitter @LJPgarcia

NEW YORK, NY - Cesar Vargas, who was brought to the United States from Mexico when he was 5 years old and eventually graduated from law school, will submit his bar application on Monday to become the first to do so in New York State.

Mr. Vargas, 29, attended and graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, then went on to graduate St. Francis College, eventually graduating from the City University of New York School of Law. He passed the bar exam last year. Mr. Vargas has received the written support from prominent members of Congress members including U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) - leading advocate for the DREAM Act, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, and Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes (Letters will be made public tomorrow). Immigration has been become a prominent issue in the presidential elections. Governor Romney has promised to veto the DREAM Act, while President Obama recently announced on June 15th a program stop the deportation of undocumented youth.

There are similar applications in front of the courts in California and Florida, but this is the first time an undocumented applicant has openly filed in New York. Cesar has applied for deferred action status under the Obama Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

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Unreasonable Suspicion

Posted on 09/26/2012 @ 12:05 PM

Tags: Youth Leadership Network, Education, Police Reform

Unresonable Suspicion

To view this video, you will need to install the Flash Player.

During a four week summer intensive, high school students from all across New York in the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy at Urban Arts Partnership partnered with LatinoJustice PRLDF to engage the topic of  Stop & Frisk policies, community policing, and racial profiling. By collaborating with LatinoJustice, the students received training with our expert lawyers and they were granted access to a number of policy makers and experts in the field.

The students created a 30 album track, a mural in Brookyn and original choreography around the subject of Stop and Frisk, community policing, and racial justice.

Additionally, Academy students developed high level film and media skills through intensive instruction with the lead teaching artist from UAP, Michael Cordero. Students learned and are mastering the complexities of pre-production, production, and post-production phases of creating a film.

This fall, LatinoJustice PRLDEF will engage in a year long New Media & Advocacy Leadership project with the Peapod-UAP students.  Students will learn the online and off-line organizing strategies through the New Organizing Institute curriculum. Our goal is for students to become agents of change in their community as they engage their peers in a conversation on stop and frisk and social justice issues that impact their world.

This is the trailer for the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy student documentary "Unreasonable Suspicion." We are proud of the students and we look forward to watching the final piece in this fall.

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Community Safety Act

Posted on 09/26/2012 @ 12:05 PM

Tags: Police Reform

Community Safety Act

Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those unfairly targeted the most by the NYPD. This groundbreaking campaign is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF is proud to support the Community Safety Act -- a package of landmark legislation in the City Council to bring real accountability to the NYPD. New Yorkers want to live in a safe city where the police treat all residents equally and respectfully, and are not above the law.

Join us on Thursday, September 27, 2012 to rally for NYPD accountability and community safety!

Where: City Hall Park- Broadway Side of City Hall
Time: 11:30am 
Why: Call for passage of the Community Safety Act! 

Join us via Facebook and Twitter at @changethenypd & help tweet #S27 #changethenypd #communitysafetynow


  • Protecting New Yorkers against discriminatory profiling by the NYPD (Intro. 800)

    This legislation would ban profiling by the NYPD. It would prohibit the NYPD from relying, to any degree, on race, ethnicity, religion, or other protected categories when engaging in law enforcement activities, with few exceptions. The legislation would also, for the first time in New York City law, make the NYPD accountable for practices such as stop and frisk that have a disproportionate impact on communities of color and other New Yorkers. Finally, it would broaden the communities protected against profiling by including a prohibition on discrimination based on race, religion, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, housing status, or other characteristics. Similar laws exist in Illinois, W. Virginia & Arkansas. This legislation is also similar to the federal End Racial Profiling Act.
  • Protecting New Yorkers against unlawful searches (Intro. 799) 

    This bill would end the practice of the NYPD pressuring New Yorkers into consenting to wrongful searches (for example, searches that lead to the disproportionate arrest of black and Latino New Yorkers for possession of minor amounts of marijuana). Police officers would have to explain to New Yorkers that they have the right to refuse a search when there is no warrant or probable cause. The NYPD would have to obtain proof of the consent given. Similar laws exist in Colorado & West Virginia.
  • Requiring officers to identify and explain themselves to the public (Intro. 801)

    This bill would require that NYPD officers provide their name and rank to the subjects of law enforcement activity, such as New Yorkers being stopped and frisked. The officer would also have to provide the specific reason for the stop, and a business card to the person being stopped that includes information on how to file a complaint. There are exceptions for extenuating circumstances. Similar laws exist in Arkansas, Minnesota and Colorado.
  • Establish an NYPD Inspector General Office (Intro. 881)

    An Inspector General would ensure that NYPD policies operate effectively and are consistent with the law. Inspectors General provide oversight of the FBI, CIA, LAPD, as well as every significant New York City government agency (including the Departments of Education, Correction, and the FDNY). An Inspector General would have the authority to review NYPD policies, recommend changes to make the Department more effective, and make regular reports to the Police Commissioner, Mayor, City Council, and public about its findings. The Inspector General would also have subpoena power.

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National Voter Registration Day

By Jazmin Chavez on 09/24/2012 @ 05:10 PM

Tags: Voting Rights Legislation, Voter Protection

Tuesday, September 25th is National Voter Registration Day and we are teaming up with national organizations to get out the vote!

According to projections from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, more than 12.2 million Latino voters are expected to cast ballots on Election Day, an increase of 26 percent from 2008.

However, out of 23.4 million eligible voters, 11 million will not turn out to vote. We can't have that happen and we want to make sure that if YOU are eligible to vote, then YOU are REGISTERED to vote. We can't protect you at the polls if you don't even show up.

Go to this site and register to vote. At least verify that you are registered to vote and let us hear from you. Tell us on Facebook and Twitter that you ARE registered to vote and ready to vote this fall!

Go to www.nationalvoterregistrationday.org and register to vote or visit our friends at VotoLatino.org and just do it!

Tweet us with #925NVRD or post your pictures of your voter registration events!

Vamos! Registrate! Register to vote!

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Community Empowerment Fellowship

Posted on 09/18/2012 @ 12:05 PM

Community Empowerment Fellowship

The Hudson Valley Community Coalition [“HVCC”] and the New York Immigration Coalition [“NYIC”] are currently seeking applicants for a Community Empowerment Fellowship focused around voter engagement in the 2012 Electoral cycle.

Recently, HVCC has been working with the New York Immigration Coalition and 10 other community and faith based organizations representing Arab-American, Latino, African American, Caribbean, and Asian communities to lead the 2012 Immigrants Vote! Campaign. The purpose of the campaign is to engage our communities in the electoral arena, and to build long-term civic-engagement structures in the neighborhoods where we work. This year the campaign will be working in all five boroughs of New York City, Nassau County in Long Island, and in the Hudson Valley (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties) to elevate the issues that matter to immigrant communities, and increase immigrant electoral impact in 2012 and beyond.

As a Community Empowerment Fellow you will help coordinate a voter outreach and education program in the Hudson Valley. Work for a great cause in your own community and help build the impact of immigrants in the civic life of New York!

Responsibilities include:
• Help recruit and lead volunteers and paid seasonal staff to conduct canvass and phone-banks in target areas.
• Use the Voter Activation Network (VAN) to enter and manage data and select areas of engagement.
• With support from the NYIC and HVCC, conduct trainings on voter engagement, canvassing, and data management.
• Attend meetings, conference calls, and webinars as needed to represent HVCC on the Immigrants Vote! Campaign table. • Track and report daily and weekly progress on voter engagement goals and other community engagement efforts.

Requirements:
• Have excellent communication skills
• Be comfortable working in a goal-driven, high-paced, but rewarding environment
• Have a flexible schedule
• Bilingual Spanish/English strongly preferred
• Some prior electoral outreach or canvassing experience preferred
• Must be able to travel locally to various Hudson Valley communities

Start date and hours: Immediate to December 1st, 2012: 20 to 40 hrs/week. $12 - $14/hr depending on experience.

To apply: email Betsy Palmieri at bpalmieri@hvccoalition.org with a brief cover letter explaining why you want this fellowship, why you think civic engagement is important in your community, and listing any previous community organizing or canvassing experience, and your contact information.

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Harvest of Empire: The Untold Story of Latinos in America

By Jazmin Chavez on 09/11/2012 @ 02:10 PM

Tags: Latin America

Watch the movie trailer.

“We are all Americans of the New World, and our most dangerous enemies are not each other, but the great wall of ignorance between us.” - Juan González, Harvest of Empire

At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, Onyx Films is proud to present Harvest of Empire, a feature-length documentary that examines the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today.

Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist Juan González, Harvest of Empire takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape.

From the wars for territorial expansion that gave the U.S. control of Puerto Rico, Cuba and more than half of Mexico, to the covert operations that imposed oppressive military regimes in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, Harvest of Empire unveils a moving human story that is largely unknown to the great majority of citizens in the U.S. “They never teach us in school that the huge Latino presence here is a direct result of our own government’s actions in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America over many decades -- actions that forced millions from that region to leave their homeland and journey north,” says Juan González at the beginning of the film.

Harvest of Empire provides a rare and powerful glimpse into the enormous sacrifices and rarely-noted triumphs of our nation’s growing Latino community. The film features present day immigrant stories, rarely seen archival material, as well as interviews with such respected figures as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Díaz, Mexican historian Dr. Lorenzo Meyer, journalists Maria Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, Grammy award-winning singer Luis Enrique, and poet Martín Espada.

New York Quad Cinema
Opens on September 28, 2012 - runs for ONE WEEK ONLY through October 4th
34 W 13th St # B
New York, NY 10011
(212) 255-2243
Get tickets here

Los Angeles Laemmle Theater
Opens on September 28, 2012 - runs for ONE WEEK ONLY through October 4th
Get tickets here

Easton, Maryland Chesapeake Film Festival 2012
September 23, 2012
Get tickets here

Washington, DC National Museum of American History October 30, 2012
Smithsonian Institution
14th St. and Constitution Ave. NW

For further information:
Wendy Thompson-Marquez President and CEO EVS Communications
301.928.2211
wthompson@evscommunications.com
http://harvestofempiremovie.com/the_film/synopsis/

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Caravan For Peace Arrives in NYC

By Jazmin Chavez on 09/06/2012 @ 12:10 PM

Tags: Drug Policy Reform, Latin America

This is a A trans-border Caravan for Peace and Justice led by the Poet and Peace Leader Javier Sicilia. It arrives in New York today and we want you to support.

Events in NYC

Thursday, September 6th: 7:00pm

  • Welcome & Vigil for Victims of the War on Drugs
    Riverside Church (490 Riverside Drive, NY), Subway 1 Stop 125th St.
    March/vigil. Testimonies of people affected by the war on drugs and organized crime. Bring candles to show your support.

Friday, September 8th

  • Press Conference at the steps of City Hall
    260 Broadway, New York, NY
    10:15am

    Please show your support for the Caravan for Peace by bringing posters and banners.
  • Screening and Discussion 6:30PM
    The documentary "The House I Live In" is about the American fight against drugs and how it affects different communities.

    Prohansky Auditorium CUNY Graduate Center 365 5th Avenue, New York, NY

A Cross-Border Caravan for Peace

More than 60,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico in the last few years. 10,000 people have been disappeared and over 160,000 displaced. Global Exchange and Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) led by Javier Sicilia have made “End the Drug War- No More Violence” campaign a priority in 2012. Starting in August, a high profile caravan will cross the US starting in San Diego/Los Angeles, heading east along the US-Mexico border and then up to Chicago, New York and DC.

Sicilia’s son, Juan Francisco was murdered along with six friends on a fateful night in March of 2011. He has since become an inspirational voice for peace, justice and reform– drawing huge crowds throughout Mexico. He comes north this summer with a call for change in the bi-national policies that have inflamed a six-year Drug War, super-empowered organized crime, corrupted Mexico’s vulnerable democracy, claimed lives and devastated human rights on both sides of the border.

2012 offers a uniquely fertile moment to internationalize the struggle for peace in Mexico. Latin American elite opinion is shifting rapidly on the question of ending drug prohibition. This call for reform has not yet echoed in the United States. The Caravan represents an unprecedented effort by Mexican civil society to impact U.S. thinking and policy.

The Movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity (MPJD), Sicilia’s organization, has prioritized a U.S. Caravan, requesting Global Exchange –a long trusted U.S. partner– to organize the advance work, as well as lead the logistics of the Caravan.

The Caravan represents one element of a broad strategy responding to Mexico’s violent national emergency resulting from Drug War policies (in Mexico and the U.S.) gone tragically wrong. The idea of the Caravan is to make Mexico’s national emergency tangible in the United States and to create a platform where those affected by the Drug War from Mexico, the U.S. and elsewhere can join their voices to inform public opinion on both sides of the border.

The U.S. Caravan’s mission is:

  • To shine a light on the crisis of Drug War violence, impunity and human rights atrocities that are rending Mexico’s social fabric;
  • To make the connections between the impacts of the Drug War in Mexico (violence, deaths and rise of organized crime) and in the U.S. (criminalization, incarceration, and life-long marginalization- disproportionately affecting African-American and Latino communities);
  • To promote a civil society discourse with the American public and opinion leaders about the policies (easy access to assault weapons, militarization of drug enforcement and U.S. prohibition policies) at the root of the crisis;
  • To foster collaboration and effective solidarity among a broad range of North American progressive, grassroots, religious, humanitarian and other organizations; and
  • To leave, in the Caravan’s wake, informed, organized, and mobilized communities of activists who will pursue reform strategies in the near and long-term on both sides of the border.

The Caravan takes place at a politically charged moment. It begins in San Diego, six weeks after Mexico’s July 1 presidential election and arrives in Washington, D.C. in September, six weeks prior to the U.S. elections. This summer we will bring communities together around events large and small, turning awareness into action and building a movement that will continue pushing for changes at the local, state, national and international level long after the Caravan has passed through.

The Peace Caravan Route and Plan

The Caravan of buses, private vehicles and RVs, will begin the month-long United States journey at the Tijuana-San Diego border on August 12, 2012. A group composed of over 80 victims of violence and the Drug War, movement organizers, and journalists will kickoff the voyage, with the number expected to swell as allies join in route. The Caravan will travel across Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, through the Deep South following the border eastbound, then proceed northward up the eastern seaboard to New York and then back down to end in Washington, D.C. Global Exchange will organize rallies, vigils, debates and media events to take place in major metropolises and small towns along the route. The Caravan will work to engage American progressives, Latino community leaders, students, policymakers and Drug War victims in a conversation about the imperative to build a trans-border movement for justice, peace, gun policy reform and social renewal. Sicilia speaks eloquently and lends a human dimension to such issues as the security industrial complex, militarization, drug laws, gun laws, immigration and economic justice.

Join the Movement

Featured in Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” December 2011 issue, Sicilia has gained a high profile through his work and raising his voice. The Peace Caravan can play a powerful role in building awareness – especially within the politically pivotal Latino U.S. constituency – on the urgent need to end the Drug War and invest in human welfare as the basis for peace throughout North America. Join Javier, the MPJD, and dozens of binational allies, and raise your voice in solidarity calling to end to the current crisis. Join the Caravan for peace and justice on both sides of the border.

Join the movement!

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Latinos & City Council Redistricting

By Jazmin Chavez on 08/27/2012 @ 01:10 PM

Latinos & City Council Redistricting

Join us on Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
6:00 pm
25 West 18th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10011 (Between 5th & 6th Avenues)

The process of redistricting the NYC Council has begun and the Latino community has yet to weigh in a coordinated way to assure that the interests of the Latino voters are fully protected. In this brainstorming session, experts on the redistricting process will provide an orientation to the issues involved and will solicit your views on how to best represent the Latino community in this process. This meeting will involve the development of concrete strategies for effective Latino participation in this process.

To RSVP and for further information please contact David Mercado at 212-388-3698 or via email

Presentations will be made by:

Angelo Falcón, President of the National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) and author of the report. "Latinos and NYC Council Districting, 2012: An Introduction"

John Garcia, Redistricting Manager, LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Lucía Gómez- Jiménez, Executive Director of La Fuente, A Tri-State Worker & Community Fund

Related Links

NiLP iReport, Latinos and NYC Districting, 2012: An Introduction

NYC Districting Commission Website

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dc/html/home/home.shtml

NYC Districting Commission City Council Website

http://www.council.nyc.gov/html/districting/nycdistricting.shtml

Public Hearings

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dc/html/meetings/meetings.shtml

¡SI SE PUEDÉ! ¡SI SE PUEDÉ! ¡SI SE PUEDÉ!

About La Fuente, A Tri-State Worker and Community Fund

La Fuente empowers immigrants and their communities to take action through grassroots organizing, leadership development, and civic participation. La Fuente works in collaboration with labor unions, faith institutions and community organizations to build a movement for a just society. Lucia Gomez-Jimenez has been involved in redistricting issues since 2001 when she worked with the Latino Voting Rights Network at the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund in 8 states.

About LatinoJustice PRLDEF

LatinoJustice PRLDEF champions an equitable society. Using the power of the law together with education and advocacy, LatinoJustice PRLDEF protects opportunities for all Latinos to succeed in work and school, fulfill their dreams, and sustain their families and communities. LatinoJustice PRLDEF's work fully embraces the diversity of the Latino community - especially the most vulnerable - new immigrants and the poor.

About NiLP

The National Institute for Latino Policy (NiLP) is a nonpartisan policy center established in 1982, which produces The NiLP Network on Latino Issue and the Latino Voting Rights Network information services. NiLP has been involved in the redistricting process in New York and other states since the 1980s and has produced numerous studies on the subject.y

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Deferred Action Resources

Posted on 08/14/2012 @ 02:00 PM

The application for Deferred Action is out. Application I-821D is for Deferred Action for Early Childhood arrivals.

The total fee for forms I-821D, I-765 and the I-765WS is $465. This fee includes a $380 form fee for the I-765 and an $85 biometric services fee.  

There are various things you must consider before filing the application.

USCIS just provided a bit more guidance on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA):

1. The form (I-821D) and application instructions are now available at uscis.gov


2. Fees and Form I-765 (for Employment Authorization Document) will be filed concurrently


3. Forms and fees will be accepted starting August 15th
, 2012.

4. We strongly suggest that you take a moment to gather yourself and your documents. You have time! DO NOT FILE APPLICATION until you gather all documents and get your application reviewed by an immigration attorney, a local-non profit legal services provider, or a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) representative.


Additionally, DO NOT APPLY WITHOUT GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL HISTORY (including juvenile adjudications) REVIEWED. Find out more here.


Lastlly, be wary of Notario scams. Do not get fooled. For more information visit here.
        

There are numerous workshops and webinars that are being offered across the nation. Many organizations also have free access to legal providers and attorneys. Do not be afraid to reach out to the organizations and be careful to not fall victim to notarios. Educate yourself before filing and speak to your family about the process and its implications.

Here is a list of documents you will need to file your application.

Upcoming Workshops

Here is a list of organizations and workshops that are available for DA applicants.

  • New York State Youth Leadership Council

    Staten Island Deferred Action Workshop
    When: Tuesday, Aug 14th from 5:30-8pm
    Where: St Mary of the Assumption Parish located on 2230 Richmond Terrace Staten Island, NY 10302
    What: Come to get more information about Deferred Action, the requirements, how to apply, when and where. Get your questions answered by an accredited lawyer.

    For more info contact info@nysylc.org.

    Deferred Action Legal Assistance Workshop for Undocumented Youth
    When: Wednesday, August 15th from 12noon to 6pm Where: St. Mary's Church 440 Grand Street (between Pitt St. and Attorney St.) - Manhattan. Take the trains F to Delancey; J, M, Z to Essex St.; B, D to Grand St.
    What: Come to get information about Deferred Action. Sign up for upcoming legal clinics to get application assistance for Deferred Action and work permit. Talk directly to lawyers on whether you qualify

    Manhatan Deferred Action Workshop When: Thursday, Aug 16th from 6:30pm-8:30pm Where: Little Sisters of the Assumption on LSA Family Health Service, 333 East 115th St, New York, NY 10029, 3rd Floor. What: Come to get more information about Deferred Action, the requirements, how to apply, when and where. Get your questions answered by an accredited lawyer. For more info contact info@nysylc.org      Brooklyn Deferred Action Workshop in collaboration with MAYAS  When: Saturday, August 18th from 4-6pm Where: Mixteca Organization Inc, 245 23rd St, 2nd floor, Brooklyn, NY 11215

  • The Immigration Policy Center

    The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is releasing an updated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: A Q&A Guide outlining the basic facts about the initiative, including eligibility requirements and important information on process and timing.

    IPC also recently released estimates on who is eligible and where they live in its fact sheet, Who and Where the DREAMers Are: A Demographic Profile of Immigrants Who Might Benefit from the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action Initiative. This analysis breaks down the population potentially eligible for deferred action by nationality and age at the national and state level, as well as the congressional district level.
  • United We Dream

    United We Dream has created a Deferred Action guide for you and your family. Find out where they will be holding the next workshops in your area.

    Own the Dream/Únete al Sueño,” a national campaign aimed at helping DREAMers request deferred action. Led by United We Dream, the Own the Dream campaign will ensure that there is a national and local infrastructure  to support DREAMers who are eligible for deferred action. NILC will help the campaign by ensuring that accurate information and trustworthy legal assistance is provided to as many DREAMers and their families as possible.

    The Own the Dream campaign includes:
     
     • A websitewww.weownthedream.org — that will serve as a clearinghouse for information on deferred action, including an online self-screening tool to determine whether you are eligible for deferred action, links to pro bono and low bono legal service providers, and a calendar of community forums and workshops.

    A hotline — 1-855-DREAM-D-1 / 855-DREAM-31 — to answer questions about deferred action.

    Text messaging. Text ownit to 877877 to sign-up for the latest news and alerts on deferred action.

    To join the Own the Dream campaign, or to learn more, visit www.weownthedream.org today!
  • Make the Road New York 
    August 15, 2012

    Renaissance Charter School 35-59 81 Street Jackson Heights, NY

    From 5 to 7 pm

    Contact: Natalia Aristizabal-Betancur at natalia.aristizabal@maketheroadny.org
  • The New York Immigration Coalition
    August 15, 2012

    440 Grand Street, New York, NY

    At 12 to 6 pm

    Contact ksarabia@thenyic.org
    and see: http://thenyic.org/events/August15

    August 21, 2012


    August 28, 2012

    September 4, 2012

    137-139 West 25th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10001 From 6 to 7 pm 

    Contact Jonathan Vidal to attend one of the sessions: jvidal@thenyic.org or (212) 627-2227 ext. 227.
  • Workers Justice Center of New York
    August 15, 2012

    Kingston Public Library, 55 Franklin Street, Kingston NY 12401

    From 7 to 9 pm 
  • National Immigration Law Center

    The National Immigration Law Center has played a leading role in the DREAM movement since the first introduction of the DREAM Act in 2001.  NILC has partnered with AILA and other DREAMer organizations and have created guidelines for filing Deferred Action applications.
  • Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC)

    E4FC have created a FAQ sheet and can provide legal assistance to Dream eligible youth.

  • USCIS
    August 16, 2012

    Baruch College – Mason Hall, 17 Lexington Avenue, New York,

    NY 10010 At 10:30am
    RSVP to: NYC.CommunityRelations@dhs.gov
    See invitation
  • Cabrini Immigrant Services CIS-NYC
    August 16, 2012

    139 Henry Street, New York, NY

    From 6 to 9 pm No registration required, walk-ins acceptable. (Additional dates: Monday, August 20th and August 27th from 9 am to 5pm)

    Contact info: 212-791-4590 ext. 108
  • Central American Legal Assistance
    August 16, 2012 

    240 Hooper Street, Brooklyn, NY
    6 pm

    Contact: 718-486-6800
  • La Union
    August 17, 2012

    August 24, 2012

    6025 6th Avenue, Room 221, Brooklyn NY 11220
    from 4 to 6 pm
    Contact: Leticia Alanis (917) 291-9408; lalanis@la-union.org
  • U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke
    August 20, 2012

    Medgar Evers College, Founders Auditorium 1650 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11201

    from 6 to 8 pm

    To confirm your attendance, please RSVP at www.clarke.house.gov or call office at (718) 287-1142
  • Filipino American Legal Defense and Education Fund
    August 24, 2012

    September 28, 2012

    4 West 43rd Street, Suite 505, New York, NY

    From 3 to 8 pm See:

    http://www.filipinoreporter.us/home/immigration/1970-dreamers-warned-against-scammers.html
  • Consulate General of Mexico in New York
    Every Monday through Friday

    27 East 39th Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016

    At 9 am and 12 pm

    Thursdays at 4pm 

    Contact (212) 217-6427
  • Asociación Tepeyac

    Every Wednesday and Friday

    251 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10011

    At 5:30pm

    Contact (212) 633-7108

Legal Assistance Workshops

You can always send us a message on Facebook or via Twitter and we will send you in the right direction.

This does not constitute legal advice. Please visit one of the legal clinics or contact an immigration attorney if you have any doubts or questions about your application or the process. For more information, visit here.

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Yo Soy Poderosa

Posted on 08/10/2012 @ 06:05 PM

Tags: Civil Rights, Advocacy, Reproductive Justice

We were are very excited to participate in the National Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice by the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH).

SoyPoderosa

¡Soy Poderosa!/ I am Powerful! is a civic engagement campaign created to engage, organize, and lift the voices of the Latina community, regardless of immigration status and ability to vote. NLIRH is mobilizing a broad constituency in support of reproductive justice, working across movements to create sustainable change.

At LatinoJustice PRLDEF, we honor the legacy of the incredible women that been a part of our family as well as the amazing mujeres who keep us going each and every day. From our support staff to our attorneys, we wanted to showcase how poderosas are women are.

These women are incredible mothers, sisters, wives, friends, and allies. They fight for social justice and for their families. We loved the answers we received when we asked ,"what makes you powerful? Que te hace poderosa?"

We want to know, what makes you poderosa? You can join the conversation on Twitter by following #soypoderosa! Share your pictures on Facebook and make sure to follow our partners at NLIRH.

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Y a veces sigues...

Posted on 06/26/2012 @ 06:05 PM

Our President and General Counsel has a monthly column in The Huffington Post: Latino Voces and El Huffpost Voces.

You can read the original post at the Huffington Post Voces.

El anuncio del viernes pasado por la administración de Obama de detener la deportación de cientos de miles de meritorios Soñadores - DREAMers-, muchos de los cuales son latinos que contribuyen a este país, fue un momento clave en la lucha social más grande de nuestros tiempos: la lucha para eliminar a Juan Crow y la demonización de la población latina.

Pero la victoria es trascendental no sólo por ser un resultado justo y humano, sino porque fue el fruto de un movimiento de liderazgo estudiantil. En mis treinta años de práctica como activista y abogado de derechos civiles, a veces eres el líder y a veces sigues.

Convencer a esta administración a frenar su apetito por las deportaciones fue un tiro largo para los Soñadores independientemente de los pronunciamientos de la administración que al seguir la mano dura y las deportaciones traería la reforma migratoria comprehensiva. Si no fuera por el excelente récord de demandas del Departamento de Justicia contra la media docena de estados que pretenden usurpar el oficio del Congreso en la política de inmigración, la administración de Obama tendría mucho que explicar.

Pero eso nunca detuvo a los estudiantes que siguieron soñando gran cosas. Su estrategia de reunirse en la Casa Blanca junto con la acción de desobediencia civil en la oficina de la campaña de Obama en Denver el mes pasado, no tiene precio. Fue estupendo. Las promesas huecas de la administración no los detuvieron. Disidencia, protesta y desobediencia civil nunca fueron ignorados en su arsenal. Los Soñadores no tenían miedo y dieron la cara frente y centro a la necesidad de los medios de comunicación de poner un rostro humano a los conflictos. Y todos sabemos que hay cientos de miles de historias potentes y humanitarias por ahí. América llegará a conocerlos muy pronto como evidencia de su compromiso a nuestro país al solicitar la acción diferida que ha ofrecido la administración de Obama.

Hace años me uní a un equipo de abogados para desafiar una práctica perniciosa en este país en el campo del derecho al voto - el conjunto de las leyes estatales que eliminan el derecho más importante de la ciudadanía, el derecho al voto, por el solo hecho de cometer un delito grave. Desde mi perspectiva, acondicionar el voto basado en consecuencias del sistema criminal tiene un impacto racial dado que nuestro sistema de justicia penal esta reventado y crea una industria de castigo excesivo y encarcelamiento compuesto desproporcionadamente de ciudadanos negros y latinos. En el apogeo de este movimiento hubo cinco litigios simultáneos en Washington, Florida, Nueva York, Nueva Jersey y Massachusetts. Todos menos uno fueron iniciados por encarcelados que radicaron demandas pro se - representándose ellos mismos sin la ayuda de un abogado. En Nueva York, uno de mis clientes, Joseph Hayden, comenzó su demanda federal mientras estaba encarcelado y continuó aun cuando estaba en libertad condicional. Fueron los presos que treparon la agenda de derechos civiles sobre el muro de la prisión. Y fueron los abogados que los seguimos.

Hoy el movimiento de DREAMers celebra una victoria pero el premio más grande recién se visualiza en el horizonte. La noticia de que el colegio de abogados del estado de California apoya la solicitud de admisión a la abogacía por Sergio García, un indocumentado, le da impulso al movimiento para cambiar este régimen de inmigración y permitir un camino permanente hacia la naturalización para todos los merecidos Soñadores.

Y cuando esto sucede, estaré entre los primeros en felicitar a nuestros nuevos líderes en la lucha para los derechos civiles.

Seguir a Juan Cartagena en Twitter: www.twitter.com/@latinojustice

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